Chicago has a problem with rats. In Ravenswood Manor the City Council baited rat traps - signs posted to warn folks included one out side Governor Rod "the Rat" Blagojevich 's back door - which he exited on December the 10th and was caught by the Sun Times photographer.
The sign is no longer there.
Another rat left the sinking ship - chief of staff to Rod Blagojevich John Harris, who had been arrested with him, resigned yesterday. His attorney Jim Sotos says his client resigned "because it was the right thing to do, and that's all I'm going to say."
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Chicago has a problem with rats. In Ravenswood Manor the City Council baited rat traps - signs posted to warn folks included one out side Governor Rod "the Rat" Blagojevich 's back door - which he exited on December the 10th and was caught by the Sun Times photographer.
New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon, GMAC LLC Chairman J. Ezra Merkin and former Philadelphia Eagles owner Norman Braman who all invested in Wall Street veteran Bernard Madoff's alleged giant Ponzi scheme have called for Hank Paulson to use some of his TARP funds to cover their losses.
You can't find funds that are more toxic than this says Superwoman Nicola Horlick of Bramdean Alternatives Ltd. in London (10% of their funds have evaporated) and is supported by Union Bancaire Privee, Fairfield Greenwich Group and Tremont Capital Management of New York , Maxam Capital Management LLC reported a combined loss of $280 million on funds they had invested with Mr. Madoff.
BNP Paribas, Tokyo-based Nomura Holdings Inc. and Neue Privat Bank in Zurich are also in the hole for billions on behalf of their private clients.
More > Gothamist
If your mind is easily boggled - cop this ....there will be 7.9 million spectators in 16 days for the Olympic Games 2012 and 1.5 Million over 11 days for the Paralympic we detailed what this meant in a post on Friday, August 17, 2007
Olympics 2012 - In Xanadu did Khubla Khan ... getting you to East London .. on time
The "Olympic Javelin" high speed shuttle rail service, will take 7 minutes from King's Cross, St Pancras to Stratford International station carrying 25,000 passengers per hour (Raise eyebrows here) with 1,200 passengers on each 6 carriage train per trip - that's one train leaving St Pancras every 3 minutes .. and arriving evry 3 minutes.
Pause here to note that the the new high speed trains will be of main line design with fewer doors than suburban rolling stock access will be relatively slow - especially for disabled visitors for Paralympics. They also have 354 seats in single class accomodation.(BBC)
Those passengers not disabled or with children in prams, will presumably be carrying, rugs, cushions, bags with food, drink, newspapers, binoculars, cameras, jerseys, waterpoofs, umbrellas to add to the fun of the event.(Raise eyebrows here)
The good news is that the first of the Hitachi made "Olympic Javelin" ( romantically called Class 395 in the UK) trains which are being supplied in a £250Mn contract for 28 trains based on the Japanese Shinkasen trains for the Channel Tunnel Rail Link has shipped from the Kasado factory.
It should arrive in Southampton at the end of this month followed by 3 more before the end of the year and the remainder by end 2009.These will be based at the Channel Tunnel Ashford depot and the first train will be trialled (it has already been fully tested in Japan) in early October 2007.
Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL), is due to become fully operational on November 14 2007. .(Raise eyebrows here)
All the trains are to be named after Britons associated with speed - preferably not enhanced by the use of drugs, so ruling out Linford Christie and Jockie Wilson.
Well the Daily Mail today reports that - The British bullet train: 'Javelin' races to London for its 140mph debut, it is not of course a British train ...and as the non- elected Transport Minister Lord Adonis pointed out, this was not their debut in service.
The trains are still being tested and he was one of the first excited passengers to try out the new service.
He said: 'When these trains enter service next year (probably 18 months late - BBC report "another year") they will transform the journeys of large numbers of rail passengers travelling between Kent and London - in some cases halving journey times.'
The Javelin yesterday completed the 56-mile journey from Ashford in Kent in just 37 minutes - shaving 46 minutes off the standard 83-minute trip (BBC video) - when in service it was announced for the first time that travelling on this service for Kent commuters will pay up to 35 % more than the standard fare. An Ashford - London annual season ticket is being quoted at £5,385.
Third IED hits Jackal and the fourth soldier to die in these lightly armoured off roaders in Afghanistan
A third UK soldier, from 45 Commando was injured in an explosion during a patrol in the recently introduced £600,000 a pop a Jackal off-road vehicle (replacement for the WMIK Land Rovers) drove over a mine or roadside bomb in the Sangin area. He died on his way to Camp Bastion. He is the 4th soldier to die in this vehicle which the press repeatedly refer to as a Jackal armoured vehicle.
Two soldiers from 45 Commando based in Arbroath, and one from the Commando Logistics Regiment died south of Sangin, Helmand province. They were on a routine foot patrol after a the explosion of a device in a wheelbarrow said to have been being pushed by a 13-year-old boy.
These 4 fatalaties make the year to date deaths by Uk forces in Afghanistan to 46 – the worst year since the invasion in 2001 - the total for the whole period is 132
The first person recorded as dying in the new Jackal (see Saturday, June 30, 2007 WMIK - Patrolling Afghanistan in a convertible ) was 21 year old Trooper James "Magpie" Munday, of 1 Troop, D Squadron, the Household Cavalry Regiment, on Wednesday 15 October 2008 who was serving as a Jackal driver on Operation HERRICK 8 when he was killed in action in Helmand province.
This was closely followed on Wednesday November 12th when Royal Marines , Robert McKibben and Neil Dunstan who were part of Task Force Helmand's Information Exploitation Group were reported to have died in their new in a new £600,000 Jackal mine-resistant armoured car (Daily Mail) after a hit from a roadside bomb in Garmsir district of Southern Helmand, Afghanistan.
For full details of these incidents Saturday, November 15, 2008 The Jackal with the soft underbelly .
The Ministry of Defence have announced that a soldier in the Contingency Operating Base in Basra. shot himself - the second such death in 8 days. Lance Corporal David Wilson, 27, of West Yorkshire, died from what was also believed to have been a self-inflicted gunshot wound there on 4th December.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Rahm Emanuel ducks questions identifying who the President elect advisor is named on FBI Blagojevich wiretaps
The FBI indictment served on Rod Blagojevich has some tantalising clues ....
112. On November 13, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH talked with JOHN HARRIS (his Chief of staff).
ROD BLAGOJEVICH said he wanted to be able to call “[President-elect Advisor]” and tell President-elect Advisor that “this has nothing to do with anything else we’re working on but the Governor wants to put together a 501(c)(4)” and “can you guys help him. . . raise 10, 15 million.” ROD BLAGOJEVICH said he wanted “[President-elect Advisor] to get the wordtoday,” and that when “he asks me for the Fifth CD thing I want it to be in his head.” (The reference to the “Fifth CD thing” is believed to relate to a seat (Rahm Emanuel's) in the United States House of Representatives from Illinois’ Fifth Congressional District.
Prior intercepted phone conversations indicate that ROD BLAGOJEVICH and others were determining whether ROD BLAGOJEVICH has the power to appoint an interim replacement until a special election for the seat can be held.).
113. Also on November 13, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH talked with Advisor A. ROD BLAGOJEVICH said he wants the idea of the 501(c)(4) in President-elect Advisor’s head, but not in connection with the Senate appointment or the congressional seat. Advisor A asked whether the conversation about the 501(c)(4) with President-elect Advisor is connected with anything else. ROD BLAGOJEVICH replied that “it’s unsaid. It’s unsaid.”
114. Later on November 13, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH spoke with Advisor A. ROD BLAGOJEVICH asked Advisor A to call Individual A and have Individual A pitch the idea of the 501(c)(4) to “[President-elect Advisor].” Advisor A said that, “while it’s not said this is a play to put in play other things.” ROD BLAGOJEVICH responded, “correct.”Advisor A asked if this is “because we think there’s still some life in [Senate Candidate 1]potentially?” ROD BLAGOJEVICH said, “not so much her, but possibly her. But others.” (Candidate 1 , is we know, Valerie Jarret)
Naturally anxious newsmen are keen to identify the names / faces behind all those pseudonyms - especially “[President-elect Advisor].”
Rahm Emanuel was uncharacteristically absent from Obama’s news conference this morning but was spotted 2 hours later in the lobby of Chicago’s City Hall. He was there to listen to his two children performing in a concert with their school, Anshe Emet.
Keen to take the opportunity to eliminate Rahm as the “[President-elect Advisor]” named in the indictment a Chicago Sun Times reporter asked him whether he was the go-between named in the criminal complaint.
“You’re wasting your time,” Emanuel the famed communicator said. “I’m not going to say a word to you. I’m going to do this with my children. Dont do that. I’m a father. I have two kids. I’m not going to do it.” The reporter persevered and asked, “Can’t you do both?” Emanuel replied, “I’m not as capable as you. I’m going to be a father. I’m allowed to be a father,” and he pushed the reporter’s digital recorder away.
Obama said this morning that none of his staff has had a hand in any dealmaking on his Senate replacement.
At the press conference this morning Obama said his staff will release the list of contacts they had with Blagojevich ...er .... "in the next few days."
Obama insisted that at no time did any of his staff or emissaries make any offers or deals to get an Obama friend appointed. He said ;
I have never spoken with the governor on this subject, and I am quite confident that no representatives of mine would have had any part in any deals related to this seat.Which is difficult to square with the FBI indictment.....
104. On November 11, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH talked with JOHN HARRIS about the Senate seat. ROD BLAGOJEVICH suggested starting a 501(c)(4) organization (a non-profit organization that may engage in political activity and lobbying) and getting “his (believed to be the President-elect’s) friend Warren Buffett or some of those guys to help us on something like that.” HARRIS asked, “what, for you?” ROD BLAGOJEVICH replied, “yeah.”
Later in the conversation, ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that if he appoints Senate Candidate 4 to the Senate seat and, thereafter, it appears that ROD BLAGOJEVICH might get impeached, he could “count on [Senate Candidate 4], if things got hot, to give [the Senate seat] up and let me parachute over there.” HARRIS said, “you can count on [Senate Candidate 4] to do that.”
Later in the conversation, ROD BLAGOJEVICH said he knows that the President-elect wants Senate Candidate 1 for the Senate seat but “they’re not willing to give me anything except appreciation. Fuck them.”
Bild has a report today of a 1,000 Kilo Glider - bomb (Segel-Bomber ) which was to be released from a bomber and guided down at a speed up to 1125 Kph by a pilot who would evacuate and parachute down.
These detailed pencil drawings are said to have been found in July 1945 in Hitler's Reich's Chancellery in Berlin and are being sent for sale to a London auction house.
All seems very unlikely.
UPDATE : Not so unlikely after all Daily Telegraph has a story later - The drawings were found in Berlin by Richard Rex who had been sent to Germany in 1945 to help establish a medical dispensary.
International Autograph Auctions is selling the plans on Dec 13 at the Radisson Edwardian Hotel, Heathrow, London. They are estimated to fetch between £2,000 and £3,000.
See also as Stef suggests looking at this Wikipedia page Natter (Adder) the Bachem Ba 349 experimental rocket powered interceptor aircraft.
Boeing have announced today a delayed launch (their fourth delay) for their 787 Dreamliner, their first new commercial plane since 1995.
The 787's first test flight is now expected to take place in the second quarter ( between April and June ) of 2009. This they say will enable first deliveries to be made to All Nippon Airways in the first quarter of 2010.
Hit by redesign of major parts, such as the wing box of this mainly carbon composite plane, problems with overseas suppliers, the need to replace thousands of fasteners in early production airplanes because technical specifications describing the preparation of the fastener holes were poorly written , integration of software controls and the 58 day machinists strike the programme is now 2 years behind schedule - with the airframe still well overweight.
Pat Shanahan, 46 who has been in charge of the 787 programme for the last 12 months is now in charge of a new Airplane Programs organization cpvering all current production and development programs, including the 787 Dreamliner and 747-8 and will report directly to Commercial Airplanes President Scott Carson.
Ray Conner, VP Sales has been shunted to head Supply Chain Management and Operations, which includes Supplier Management, Fabrication, Propulsion Systems and the Manufacturing and Quality unit and reports directly to Carson.
Scott Fancher moves from the missile-defense business in Boeing's Integrated Defense Systems division to take over Shanahan's job as
the 787 program's general manager.
Marlin Dailey now head of sales efforts in Europe, Russia and Central Asia takes over Connor's role as VP sales.
CEO Scott Carson will be 63 next summer.
The US hastily cobbled $14 billion bailout for Detroit has died in the Senate after failing on a procedural vote.
Bipartisan talks on the rescue broke down over Republican demands that the United Auto Workers union agree to steep wage cuts by 2009 to bring their pay into line with Japanese carmakers.
Majority Leader Harry Reid is now hoping that President George W. Bush would tap Hank the Bank's back pockey US$700 billion Wall Street bailout fund for emergency aid to the automakers.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky led a revolt in announcing his opposition to the White House-backed rescue bill passed by the House on Wednesday. Mitch isued a Press release We Simply Cannot Ask the American Taxpayer to Subsidize Failure wich is well worth reading ..and quoting..
...its greatest single flaw is that it promises taxpayer money today for reforms that may or may not come tomorrow.
We simply cannot ask the American taxpayer to subsidize failure.
He and other Republicans said wages and benefits for employees of Detroit's Big Three dinosaurs should be renegotiated to bring them in line with those paid by Japanese carmakers Toyota, Honda and Nissan in the United States.
Hourly wages for UAW workers at GM factories are about equal to those paid by Toyota Motor Corp. at its older U.S. factories, according to the companies. GM says the average UAW laborer makes $29.78 per hour, while Toyota says it pays about $30 per hour. But the unionized factories have far higher benefit costs.
Republican Sen. George V. Voinovich of Ohio, a strong bailout supporter, said the UAW was willing to make the cuts — but not until 2011....which is shorthand for never.
GM claims their total hourly labor costs are now US$69, including wages, pensions and health care for active workers, plus the pension and health care costs of more than 432,000 retirees and spouses. Toyota says its total costs are around US$48. The Japanese automaker has far fewer retirees and less generous pension and health care benefits as UAW workers.
A Pew Research Centre poll said 39 % approved the "loans" to keep GM, Ford and Chrysler in business, This broke down to 45 % Democrats and 31 % Republicans supporting the proposal.
Detroit's problems are far more fundamental and historical than shop floor pay scales. They have too many brands, too many models, they burn too much gas, their build quality is poor ... and the whole industry is struggling because the buyers don't have the money and cannot / will not take the loans to buy new vehicles.
Wall Street is going to sink like stone... see also "Bernard L. Madoff, the founder of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities and a fixture of the Wall Street trading world for decades, was arrested Thursday morning by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents and charged with criminal securities fraud by federal prosecutors in Manhattan." WSJ
Apparently Madoff, 70, told senior employees on Wednesday that his business was "a giant Ponzi scheme."
Plenty more of those due to fail yet.
UPDATE : By 0816 GMT the FTSE 100 was down 147.1 points, or 3.35%, at 4,241.59, with bank shares seeing the biggest falls.
Royal Bank of Scotland shares fell 13.8%, HBOS shares were down 10.1% and Barclays dropped 9.4%.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Daily Telegraph Belgian police 'thwart imminent al-Qaeda attack'
Belgian police say they have thwarted an imminent al-Qaeda suicide bomb attack as Prime Minister Gordon Brown and other European Union leaders arrived for a summit in Brussels.
Heads of state and government are currently arriving in Brussels for a two-day summit to discuss the economic crisis and climate change.
A well disguised chemical weapon was discovered by the Police as they swooped on suspects.
Here is an update on events detailed in previous posts - Wednesday, April 09, 2008 Masons,Shriners,Royal Order of Jesters, prostitutes, sex tourism, and tax exempt partying - Saturday, April 12, 2008 Royal Order of Jesters - something funny going on
The Buffalo News has the story today, by Dan Herbeck - Former law clerk sentenced in Jesters prostitution case
The owner of the “massage parlors,” Len Wah Chong, was sentenced on November 19th to six years in federal prison for enslaving as many as 11 illegal alien prostitutes. She pleaded guilty early last April to "Sex Trafficking of Persons by Force, Fraud and Coercion." She forfeited two properties,$70K in cash and jewelry seized and now must pay $350,000 in restitution to those she kept as sex slaves. (FBI Press release)
FBI agents used court ordered wire intercepts to listen the owner of the four "massage parlors," Len Wah Chong, 43, (the Lotus Acupressure Spa in Lockport; the Lotus Spa in Niagara Falls; Golden Acupressure and Lucky J Fortune Teller in Wheatfield; and Lotus Acupressure in Tonawanda ) as she ran her prostitution businesses over the phone. Agents during the 15 month enquiry heard her talking shop with a former New York state Supreme Court Judge and former director of the Buffalo chapter of the Royal Order of Jesters Court #22, Ronald Tills. He not only frequented the “massage parlors,” but also supported Len Wah Chong by taking some of her illegal alien prostitutes to weekend Jester parties in Kentucky, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. In his plea agreement, Tills also admitted to coordinating prostitutes with top Jester leaders for a national meeting in Canada.
Former State Supreme Court official Michael R. Stebick, 61, (law clerk to State Supreme Court Judge Ronald H. Tills) who used his motor home to transport an illegal alien prostitute supplied by Len Wah Chong from Hamburg to Kentucky was sentenced to four months of home confinement today by a federal judge. He was put on probation for two years, ordered to pay a $5,000 fine and directed to provide 250 hours of community service by U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny. (pdf of plea here)
Stebick's sentence results from a federal investigation into human trafficking activities by a Masonic nationwide men's "charitable" organization known as the Royal Order of Jesters.
Under a felony plea deal he took in August, Stebick also agreed to forfeit to the federal government his 2000 Challenger motor home, which he used to transport the prostitute and some club members to a Jesters conference in Ashland, Ky., in October 2005.
State Supreme Court Judge Ronald H. Tills, who took a plea deal in the same case is awaiting sentencing on January 12, 2009. . Former Lockport Police Capt. John Trowbridge — also took a plea deal .
According to Judge Skretny, the victim in the case was put up in a hotel by the Jesters, with a sign stating "$70-an-hour" posted outside her room.
The investigation, conducted by the Western New York Human Trafficking Task Force and Alliance, is continuing. The task force includes members of the FBI, U.S. Border Patrol, the Erie and Niagara county sheriff's offices and U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement.
In a letter to the judge, Steibick wrote ..."I have embarrassed myself, my friends and my profession," Stebick wrote. "I met [the prostitute] for the first time when she was with us on the ride down to Ashland, Kentucky ... I did not know she was an illegal alien." He also claimed he was acting at the direction of his boss — Tills — when he agreed to drive the prostitute to Kentucky.
Transporting a person across state lines for the purposes of prostitution is a violation of the federal law known as the Mann Act.
Sandy Frost at her Newsvine site has a transcript of the Deposition testimony of Brazilian fishing guide Admilson Garcia da Silva plus photgraphs he supplied ( © 2008 by Sandy Frost) and his experience as a guide for trips for groups of Jesters and Masons on fishing parties organised by Wet-a-Line boats . Be warned that it is sexually explicit and if this offends you, don't read it.
As a result of a falling out amongst jealous suppliers of such tours Richard W. Schair and Wet-a-Line Tours LLC v Phillip Marsteller and Amazon Tours, Inc. defamation lawsuit was settled out of court on Friday, December, 5.
The 1893 World Exposition, held in Chicago, caused many of the United States to adopt official State flowers - it wasn't until 1907, that Mrs. James C. Fessler of Rochelle, started a statewide campaign in Illinois (The Parairie State) to adopt a state flower.
A vote was called and 33,500 votes were cast for three flowers;
Violet - 16,583 votes.
Wild Rose - 12,628 votes.
Goldenrod - 4,315 votes.
Senator Andrew J. Jackson of Rockford sponsored a bill in the Illinois Legislature to make the violet the official flower of the state. On January 21, 1908 the native violet was approved as the official state flower of the State of Illinois.
The legislation did not specify a specific variety of violet but, according to the Illinois State Museum, the dooryard or common violet (Viola sororia) is the most common species in the state and was probably the intended "native violet" of Senator Jackson's Bill.
This law went into effect on July 1, 1908.
Chapter 5, State Designations Act, Section 40.
GOVERNMENT CHAPTER 5. GENERAL PROVISIONS. (5 ILCS 460/) State Designations Act. (5 ILCS 460/40) (from Ch. 1, par. 2901-40) Sec. 40. State tree and flower. The white oak tree is designated the native State tree of the State of Illinois; and the native violet is designated the native State flower of the State of Illinois.
In 1973, a poll of 333, 964 school children chose to specify the white oak Quercus alba , as the state tree. The northern red oak was placed second with 142,247 votes.
Handy Christmas present - State Birds and Flowers Coloring Book by Annika Bernhard US$3.95 Amazon
The remaining 10 Jurors at the inquest on the murder of Jean Charles de Menezes started their sixth day of deliberations at the early time of 9.30 am today.
Yesterday the Coroner Sir Michael Wright told the jury it must now reach a majority of at least eight to two.
One wondesr what sort of legal precedent is set by a jury providing a verdict on which only 8 of the original dozen can agree ?
As Gareth Pierce et al are applying to the High Court for a judicial review of Sir Michael Wright 's directions to the jury about what verdicts can be permitted - it would seem that m'lern'd friends are due to make some more moolah. .. £ 4 MN. to date and the meter is still ticking.
Since we named Jesse Jackson Jnr as candidate 5 in Rod Blagojevich auction of Mr Obama's Senate seat on Tuesday, December 09, 2008 -Rod Blagojevich AKA soon to be Rod "canary" Blagojevich arrested, charged and in custody the MSM have followed our lead. (D. Telegraph and fascinating article in Newsweek)
What we didn't follow up was the fact that with the Chicago Royal Family, the Blagojevich's , like the Clinton's you get a twofer ... talk of Rod and Patricia is rarely far behind.
It is evident that a close reading o fthe fed's 76 page indictment shows that Pat was busy helping her ambitious husband in hatching a plan to sell President-elect Barack Obama's old U.S. Senate seat. She angled to trade her husband's power for lucrative spots on corporate boards. And she unleashed an obscenity-filled tirade suggesting Tribune Co. ownership should "just fire" Chicago Tribune editorial writers if the company wanted the state to help it unload Wrigley Field to ease its crushing debt.
"Hold up that ******* Cubs ********," she is quoted as saying in the background as her husband talked on the phone, authorities alleged. " **** them."
Patricia Blagojevich, 43, has not (yet) been charged with wrongdoing.
The affidavit also alleges she participated in a two-hour conference call (!) last month in which she, hubby Rod and his aides and cronies discussed selling Obama's seat in exchange for place for her on paid corporate boards. Patricia Blagojevich suggested she would be qualified for such positions because she has a background in real estate and appraisals, while the governor stated that he hoped she would pull in at least $150,000 annually to alleviate the family's "financial stress."
Chicago newspapers have reported that tax records show that in 2007, the Blagojevich family’s income dropped nearly 20%, to US$214,580 in combined wages. (He earns US$177,412 as governor.)
During this epic call, the governor mulled appointing himself to the Senate seat and a major concern was that it would be easier for his wife to become a lobbyist.
Patricia is a tough lady - missing out on her hubby's bail hearing Tuesday, and grew up as the daughter of longtime ward boss Ald. Richard Mell (33rd), so was aware at an early age to the bruising world of the Chicago Machine. Politics runs in the family of course and Pat's sister, Deborah Mell, a gay rights activist, was elected a state representative in Illinois last month. (See biog and lengthy interview with her partner Christin Baker here)
Wikipedia says that, Mell announced she would run in the special election to replace Rahm Emanuel, who will be resigning from the US House of representatives, to serve as President Obama'sWhite House Chief of staff. (The Hill) Her brother in law , Governor Blagojevich has 120 days from Emanuel’s resignation to set the special election and primary dates.
Patricia Blagojevich fell out with her dad when he accused her hubby of pay-to-play politics in 2005, but had been briefly reconciled after her mother's death 2 years ago. Despite their chilly relationship in recent years, Mell expressed concern for his daughter on Tuesday—but showed little concern for his son-in-law.
"My main concern right now is for my daughter and my grandchildren(Amy and Annie). That's all I want to say right now" the Chicago Tribune reported him saying.
The First Lady of Chicago , a graduate in economics from the University of Illinois, continued to work as a real-estate agent (River Realty) until a federal investigation into her hubby started revving up .
She has championed popular liberal causes such as literacy, children's health care and public breast feeding. In 2005 Illinois became the first state in the nation to offer affordable, comprehensive health insurance for every uninsured child through the All Kids Health Insurance Program. Patricia has been an outspoken advocate and served as a spokesperson and key partner for All Kids, working with schools and hospitals across the state to pre-register families in this landmark program.
She also created the State Beautification Initiative. Through this initiative, thousands of native wildflowers have been planted along state roadways.
Patricia has however continued to work in her own real-estate business until a federal investigation into her hubby started overheating.
The first lady's once-lucrative real estate career suffered after her most famous client, Antoin "Tony" Rezko, was convicted on political corruption charges. Apparently she earned more than $700,000 in commissions on other deals after her husband began raising money in 2000 for his first gubernatorial campaign.
Of those commissions, the Chicago Tribune found more than three-quarters came from clients with connections - which may be the cause of her recorded hostility to Chicago Tribune editorial writers .
As commissions faded, she started up as an investment banker. She touted her ability to land state business upon her hiring with a local banking house, but those deals never materialized and she soon left.
In September, she began working as a full-time fundraiser for the Chicago Christian Industrial League—a job she obtained after a longtime political ally of the governor talked to the director of the very well established non-profit homeless agency.
A spokeswoman for the agency told s that Patricia Blagojevich still worked at the agency. Period.
Now go and read that Newsweek article and the implications of the the disclosure on the activities of the JJ family - they by the way also pick up on our disclosure that Valerie Jarrett was Obama's pick for his Senate seat.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
9th December 2008
The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights on Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, Richard Falk, ( a 78 year old Jew who is barred from Israel after his remarks comparing its forces' actions in Gaza to those of the Nazis in wartime Europe) who was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council, issued the following statement entitled Silence is not an Option
GENEVA -- In recent days the desperate plight of the civilian population of Gaza has been acknowledged by such respected international figures as the Secretary General of the United Nations, the President of the General Assembly, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Last week, Karen AbyZayd, who heads the UN relief effort in Gaza, offered first-hand confirmation of the desperate urgency and unacceptable conditions facing the civilian population of Gaza. Although many leaders have commented on the cruelty and unlawfulness of the Gaza blockade imposed by Israel, such a flurry of denunciations by normally cautious UN officials has not occurred on a global level since the heyday of South African apartheid.
And still Israel maintains its Gaza siege in its full fury, allowing only barely enough food and fuel to enter to stave off mass famine and disease. Such a policy of collective punishment, initiated by Israel to punish Gazans for political developments within the Gaza strip, constitutes a continuing flagrant and massive violation of international humanitarian law as laid down in Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
It is long past the time when talk suffices. As AbuZayd has written, "the chasm between word and deed" with respect to upholding human rights in occupied Palestine creates a situation where "radicalism and extremism easily take root." The UN is obligated to respond under these conditions. Some governments of the world are complicit by continuing their support politically and economically for Israel's punitive approach.
Protective action must be taken immediately to offset the persisting and wide-ranging violations of the fundamental human right to life, and in view of the emergency situation that is producing a humanitarian catastrophe that is unfolding day by day. However difficult politically, it is time to act. At the very least, an urgent effort should be made at the United Nations to implement the agreed norm of a 'responsibility to protect' a civilian population being collectively punished by policies that amount to a Crime Against Humanity.
In a similar vein, it would seem mandatory for the International Criminal Court to investigate the situation, and determine whether the Israeli civilian leaders and military commanders responsible for the Gaza siege should be indicted and prosecuted for violations of international criminal law. As AbuZayd has declared, "This is a humanitarian crisis deliberately imposed by political actors."
It should be noted that the situation worsened in recent days due to the breakdown of a truce between Hamas and Israel that had been observed for several months by both sides. The truce was maintained by Hamas despite the failure of Israel to fulfill its obligation under the agreement to improve the living conditions of the people of Gaza.
The recent upsurge of violence occurred after an Israeli incursion that killed several alleged Palestinian militants within Gaza. It is a criminal violation of international law for elements of Hamas or anyone else to fire rockets at Israeli towns regardless of provocation, but such Palestinian behavior does not legalize Israel's imposition of a collective punishment of a life- and health-threatening character on the people of Gaza, and should not distract the UN or international society from discharging their fundamental moral and legal duty to render protection to the Palestinian people.
For further information on the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and work and mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights on Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, visit this website
"We do not claim that life in Gaza is easy, but so much of its misfortune is self-inflicted. "
Leader writer in Jerusalem Post today
See also Falk's essay Slouching toward a Palestinian Holocaust a prophetic essay in 2007
But Gaza is morally far worse, although mass death has not yet resulted. It is far worse because the international community is watching the ugly spectacle unfold while some of its most influential members actively encourage and assist Israel in its approach to Gaza. Not only the United States, but also the European Union, are complicit, as are such neighbors as Egypt and Jordan apparently motivated by their worries that Hamas is somehow connected with their own problems associated with the rising strength of the Muslim Brotherhood within their own borders. It is helpful to recall that the liberal democracies of Europe paid homage to Hitler at the 1936 Olympic Games, and then turned away tens of thousands of Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany. I am not suggesting that the comparison should be viewed as literal, but to insist that a pattern of criminality associated with Israeli policies in Gaza has actually been supported by the leading democracies of the 21st century.
Epaminondas Korkoneas, the 37-year-old police officer who is alleged to have shot the teenager Alexis Grigoropoulos is a special guard, a force that was created in 1999 but fully inducted into the police only this year.
Voice Stress Analysis - Junk Science used by Government to frighten and intimidate benefit claimants
Harrow Council Communications Management Strategy 2003 - 2006 - Successful communications are at the heart of any successful enterprise...... Harrow Council tries to be open and honest in its dealings.
Independent observers therefore might find it difficult to reconcile this worthy objective with the details of the London Borough of Harrow - The introduction of Voice Risk Analysis to Housing Benfits and Council Tax assessments - which is a nominee for the e-Government National Awards 2007.
Public technology.net provides an effusive and excited review of this exciting initiative ;
"Harrow's Housing Benefit Service is already a national benchmark of excellence, with a four star CPA rating and fastest assessment times in the country. The recent implementation of Voice Risk Assessment (VRA) has further improved performance, secured a DWP easement on checking claimants' details, and saved money. VRA does not deter benefits claimants - Harrow's caseload is the highest it has ever been but helps to drive out fraud or error and to target resources faster. The use of this technology in the public sector is a national 'first' for Harrow. Following its success both Lambeth and Birmingham councils have adopted the package."Apparently Mike Carney (Head of Assessments) consulted with Capita in January 2007 and decided to use VRA within its contact centre , " to innovate the review process "(?) Capita are the Council's strategic partner. Harrow worked with them to apply their general VRA technology to a Local Government assessments environment. They have provided technical expertise and supported Harrow's project manager in implementing the system.
As a national 'first' implementing VRA required courage (?). But the DWP's confidence in the project was such that it funded the pilot. By February operators were being trained and the scripts developed by the Council.
1.VRA went live on May 21 for Housing and Council Tax Benefits interventions.
2. The system was extended in June for review of single person discounts
3. It was further extended in August for new claims for Housing and Council Tax Benefits.
4. We have worked with Job Centre Plus who plan to pilot VRA from September.
5.Plans are also in place to extend the service to cover a range of other assessment based Council services, such as Blue Badges and Freedom Passes."
6. We are on track to achieve the Government's PI (?) within 2007.
John Hutton, who was then the Secretary for Work and Pensions (eGov monitor 10 April 2007) said , "Harrow Council is already recognised as providing one of the best Housing Benefit services in the UK and I welcome its willingness to pilot this innovative technique to make further improvements." What he failed to mention was that no surrogate marker of deception has yet proved reliable enough to be admitted as evidence in a court of law in the UK.
Benefits ? - well they claim ..." So far we have reviewed 588 cases and fast-tracked processing for 402 of them. Of these 135 declared a change, and 73 are being followed up further. This has resulted in a saving in this area alone of £98,192, and £140,000 in total. The one year trial costs only £63,000 and has saved £140,000 in the first four months. "
Recent figures from the DWP are said to show that Benefit fraud in the UK is estimated to run to a total of £800m in 2006/7, and that there were more than 52,000 prosecutions in 2005/6. The Fraud Act 2001 gave fraud investigators more powers to catch and punish offenders, including greater powers to check records with other organisations.
Curiously in the Guradian December 2nd they say ... "In the first three months Harrow council saved £300,000, suggesting levels of benefit fraud may be higher than government estimates." ...the Monbiot Calculus at work again, think of a number ...er.. then make it bigger. In the Economist on May 8th 2008 they report ..."This week the council said that in the ten months from May 2007, when the system was installed, it had saved £420,000 ($828,000).
A press report in the Birmingham Post May 8th 2008 , "Phone lie detector led to 160 Birmingham benefit cheat investigations" , reports that of 2,656 calls subject to checking, 6%, around 160, were classified as "high risk", leading to further inquiries. It refrains from saying how many of those investigated then proved to be cheating the system or lying. See also BBC video report posted at the same time...."Fifteen councils across Britain are to be offered lie detectors to help catch out benefit cheats who cost taxpayers up to £400m a year. "
As recently as November 20th the BBC reported that the technology will be used for the first time on telephone calls of unemployment benefit claimants in Lincoln and Nottingham.
Harrow, partnered with Capita, are one of the 68 Finalists and are included in Section 9) Local e-Government excellence: Team - they will hear their fate at an exclusive black-tie e-Government National Awards dinner which takes place 6.45pm - 11.15pm on 20th January 2009 at the prestigious Guildhall in the City of London.(details)
What exactly is Harrow's / Capita's magical Voice Risk Assessment (VRA) system
Here we have to thank the Yorkshire Ranter - Dr. Benway strikes again, with Venture Capital who with sound knowledge and experience and with a wry literary touch provides a detailed and lethal de-bunking and also The Ministry of Truth for the Government Bullshit Risk Detector .
Voice stress analysis (VSA), is not new and , works it is claimed, by detecting involuntary psychophysiological modulations in a subsonic and inaudible component of the voice called the ‘Lippold Tremor’ at a frequency of between 8Hz and 12Hz. As far as can be ascertained the original research was undertaken on live voice recording and computer analysis - not on digitally transmitted voice data over telephone networks.
Within the world of Detection Of Deception (DOD) this issue is hotly debated with polygraphists (Lie Detectors) and few independent research studies have been undertaken. A study by VThe State of Virginia in 2003, (35 page pdf) at which time the technique was in widespread use, concluded that
The technique used by Harrow is a proprietary, patented (only in Canada it appears - registrant is Amir Liberman, an Israeli - 16th Dec. 1998) system utilising a subset of VSA called Layered Voise Analysis which is peddled by a company called Nemesysco Ltd. a privately held security-oriented company founded in 2000, and headquartered in Netanya, Israel and sold through Digilog UK.
"Because there have been no independent scientific studies conducted on the reliability of the computer voice analyzer to detect deception, the Board recommends to the Director of the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation that computer voice analyzer equipment should not be approved in Virginia at this time."
The suppliers do not claim that their devices detect lies; rather, they claim that VSA detects microtremors, which are caused by the stress of trying to conceal or deceive. hence it's usefulness in their personal use product ... the PC based Love Detector - The Love Detector technology is capable of detecting love-like feelings and other emotions via the telephone or a microphone.
There is little experimental or independent evidence of the utility of this technique but the Natonal Institute of Justice - a section of the US Department of Justice published a report by Kelly R. Damphousse, Ph.D. in their Journal dated March 17, 2008 - entitled , "Voice Stress Analysis: Only 15 Percent of Lies About Drug Use Detected in Field Test" in which they address the question ...Can VSA Accurately Detect Deception? and they conclude ;
Our findings suggest that these VSA software programs were no better in
determining deception about recent drug use among arrestees than flipping a
The Yorkshire Ranter however points to a fatal weakness in that the original work on VSA relies upon
... a change in a signal in your voice between 8 and 12Hz, but even the highest-quality voice codecs used for public telephony filter out everything below 50Hz, so a VSA system based on - well - science couldn't possibly work.All this is of course to some extent an academic and amusing diversion - but it isn't.
In the Queen's Speech debate the Guradian reports ;
The government also highlighted a pilot covering 25 local councils administering housing benefit to 500,000 claimants, saying "voice risk analysis technology" will be used to test whether a claimant is providing false information. The government first introduced the technology in Harrow in north London last year, but now says it plans to make the technology available nationwide.The Government have of course anticipated resistance to the system and response is outlined here by Department for Work & Pensions Anti-Fraud Minister, James Plaskitt yesterday during their media blitz on May 8th 2008.
His ad hominem is remarkable (or not in the circumstances) in that it justifies the use of such systems by their results, not by any attempt to validate the techniques.
This is because, by simply telling the caller such a system is in use acts as a deterrant to continue with the application. This may be because they are attempting to commit fraud, but it may not be.
The use of this technology is merely to cow and frighten, the guilty and the inoccent will fall foul of this technique unsupported by any rigorous scientific studies. Furthermore no surrogate marker of deception has yet proved reliable enough to be admitted as evidence in a court of law in the UK.
So the state is using a technique which is fraudulent to possibly identify the fraudsters.... but... but ... Harrow Council tries to be open and honest in its dealings.
Recent figures from the DWP are said to show that Benefit fraud in the UK is estimated to run to a total of £800m in 2006/7 - equivalent to the loss to the HMRC of 2 months carousel fraud.
Coroner Sir Michael Wright, presiding over the inquest into the murder of Jean Charles de Menezes at the Oval Cricket Ground is looking increasingly isolated and incompetent.
Last week, he ruled that the jury was forbidden from considering whether the innocent Tube passenger was unlawfully killed. Since then the lawyers for de Menezes family have withdrawn from the court.
The jury will be reduced today to 10 members with one of the jurors being discharged because of overseas travel plans , according to the transcript , Sir Michael .."will give you further directions tomorrow morning upon the new majority figures that
would apply to a jury of ten" - expect more defections / gyppy tummies / deaths in the family.
Now he has said he would accept a majority verdict after the jurors have (so far) failed to reach unanimity.
The jurors who have spent 5 days deliberating have been told to cast aside any emotion in deciding between a lawful killing verdict or an open verdict. They must also answer a questionnaire the contents of which are confidential.
The BBC report that Sir Michael Wright said a majority must agree on all the points in a list of questions they have to answer "yes", "no" or "cannot decide" to.
However with an evaporating jury, disappearing lawyers, failure to arrive at a verdict (even a majority) simply pushes off any potential legal action against the state's assassins - and will no doubt even further delay the inquest into the 7/7 victims.
Which , failing an open verdict , is for the forces of law and order, after three months, 100 witnesses and a cost of £3 million pounds, a result. (BBC - Four councils, Southwark, Lambeth, Lewisham and Greenwich in south London could have to pay a bill of more than £4m for the Jean Charles de Menezes inquest to be held, it has been revealed.)
Family Inquest Website
Mr Ralph Livock 30th October 2008 questioned by Mr Hilliard
Q. Thank you. Did you hear him say anything to Mr de Menezes?
A. Absolutely not.
UK Manufacturing output slumps 4.9% year on year - Trade gap widens in October - MITC fraud still an unknown quantity
The seasonally adjusted volume index for the output of the production industries fell by an astonishing and unprecedented 1.8 % cent compared with the previous three months. (Base 2003 =100) Output has fallen for 8 straight months even though the pound has continually weakened and has fallen 4.9% year-on-year .
Between September and October output of UK manufacturing industries fell by 1.4 %. There were widespread falls in manufacturing the most significant decreases in output were 3.6 % in the paper,printing and publishing industries, 4.2 % in the basic metals and metal products industries and 2.8 % in the transport equipment industries - last week figures for new car sales in November were 37% down on a year ago.
The chemicals and man-made fibres industries grew by 1.6% .
Mining and quarrying output decreased by 0.7 % and output of the electricity, gas and water supply industries decreased by 0.5 % compared with the previous three months.
In the last 3 months , output of the consumer durable goods industries fell by 3.6 % compared with the previous three months and was 8.1 % lower than the same period a year ago.
In the last 3 months, output of the capital goods industries fell by 2.7 % compared with the previous three months and was 4.4 % lower than the same period a year ago.
Following this news the pound fell against the euro and the dollar dropping by over 1% to US $1.4742. The euro rose to 87.25p, near its recent record high of 87.38p.
The goods trade gap with the rest of the world widened slightly to £7.8bn in October, (£7.4 billion in September) mainly due to a drop in oil exports because of North Sea production problems. The balance on trade in oil was in deficit by £0.4 billion, compared with a surplus of less than £0.1 billion in September.
In October, total exports of goods fell by 3.5% to £21.2 billion and total imports of goods fell by 1% to £28.9 billion.
The ONS add this cautionary note without further explanation - Changes in trade associated with VAT MTIC (carousel) fraud mean that comparisons of volume and prices (both including and excluding trade associated with VAT MTIC fraud) should be treated with a great deal of
caution. (ie : we haven't a **** clue what the level of fraud is, where it happens and .. well ... er.. that's it)
The UK's surplus on trade in services was £3.9 billion, unchanged from September and in the last 3 months , the surplus on trade in services was £11.7 billion, compared with £10.9 billion in the previous three months. (Exports £40.3 Bn. - Imports £28.6 Bn. )
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
The Daily Mail reports on the inquest on the death of 18 month old Greta Davison whose father reversed his BMW over her and didn't realise until his wife telephoned him at work.
Alan Mardell, head of the child protection unit at Herefordshire Police, carried out a routine investigation after Greta's death ... He told the inquest: 'This was nothing more than a tragic accident.'
The BBC report that Pc Alan Paton, of West Mercia Police, said tests carried out on Mr Davison's BMW had found numerous blind spots in his mirrors.
He said he would not have seen Greta even if she had been standing up.
The car also had a reversing sensor which did not go off but tests found that this would only have been activated if Greta had been standing in certain points and would not have sounded if she had slipped or stumbled on to the floor.
Coroner Mr Halpern recorded a verdict of accidental death.
When the Daily Mail reported the incident in February they reported an almost identical incident earlier that week when Jake Younger, aged 18 months who had just learned to walk, was killed as he ran out to greet his dad, Neil Lawson, 29, as he reversed his black Land Rover Freelander 4x4 up the family drive in Kibblesworth, near Gateshead, Tyne and Wear at 4.00 in the afternoon of February 7th.
At the time a Gateshead motor patrols spokesman said: “We are looking at the circumstances but this appears to be a tragic accident and our condolences go to the family.”
Gateshead coroner Terence Carney said (at the inquest on September 12th) Jake's death was a tragic accident. He said: "The father who is suffering greatly, readily co-operated with this matter and needs to be commended for the way in which he dealt with the necessary investigation.
"This incident occurred in circumstances where nobody had foreseen a child who has been able to come out of its home, looking for his father has walked in to the path way of a vehicle. It was a unfortunate accident and I record a verdict of accidental death."
Sunday, February 10, 2008 - How to kill your kids - Buy an SVU - 17 month old daughter killed by father
Saturday, June 10, 2006 SUV's are a hazard to children
Friday, October 07, 2005 SUV 's... kill kids and slays the old.
In a week (Guradian) when Nigel Gresham was at the wheel of his highly modified Land Rover when it flipped off the road at Tattershall Bridge, Lincolnshire, and rolled into the river Witham killing four of his children... it is remarkable how many children killed in car "accidents" have been killed by their parents.
At Tony Rezko's corruption trial star witness Chicago businessman Stuart Levine recalled "I was very interested in cultivating a relationship with Mr. Rezko," Levine said. "I felt that Mr. Rezko and I could make a lot of money together."
He went on to tell the court Rezko cautioned him, that any talk of business would need to be in person. "Any discussions with me about any illegal activity we were involved with should not be held on the phone," Levine said.
So evidently not everyone in the circle of two-term Democratic governor Rod Blagojevich followed this golden rule.
Rod Blagojevich and his chief of staff, John Harris, were charged today with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and solicitation of bribery. Both were taken into custody at their homes in Chicago.
The 76-page FBI affidavit details wiretaps on the Governor who has been under scrutiny by the Feds since 2005.
On November 5, 2008, Rod Blagojevich talked with Advisor A about the Senate seat. During the phone call, he stated that the President-elect can remove somebody from a foundation and give the spot to Rod Blagjevich. In regards to the Senate seat, he said “I’ve got this thing and it’s fucking golden, and, uh, uh, I’m just not giving it up for fuckin’ nothing. I’m not gonna do it. And, and I can always use it. I can parachute me there.”
In a secretly recorded conversation on October 31, Mr Blagojevich claimed he was offered a deal by an associate of an unnamed "Senate Candidate 5".
"We were approached 'pay to play'. That, you know, he'd raise 500 grand. An emissary came. Then the other guy would raise a million, if I made him [Senate Candidate 5] a Senator," the governor allegedly said.
The massive and detailed FBI affidavit says David Blagojevich pondered getting a Cabinet post or ambassadorship for himself in return for the Senate seat – a position that only the incoming Obama Administration would be able to give.
All the juicy bits are detailed here
Last weekend, prior to his arrest, Mr Blagojevich was quoted as saying people should “feel free” to bug his phone lines as everything he said was lawful.
Mr Blagojevich’s chief fundraiser, friend, and confidant Christopher G Kelly, is due to stand trial early next year on charges of obstructing the Internal Revenue Service.
Mr Blagojevich took the chief executive’s office in 2003 as a reformer and anti-corruption candidate. His predecessor, Governor George Ryan, was sentenced to a six-year prison sentence after being convicted on racketeering and fraud charges.
At the Rezko trial, Levine said he and Rezko started to meet more frequently. When Levine and Rezko talked about the governor, Rezko told him he had high aspirations for Blagojevich.
"He had raised a great deal of money for Gov. Blagojevich," Levine said. "He had great hopes and expectations that Gov. Blagojevich would run for president."
probably the most tantalising wiretap is ... "Later in the conversation,Rod Blagojevich said he knows that the President-elect wants Senate Candidate 1 for the Senate seat but “they’re not willing to give me anything except appreciation. *** them.”
Candidate 1 it appears is Valerie Jarett currently co-chairman of the transition team. She was Deputy Chief of Staff for Mayor Richard Daley, during which time (1991) she hired Michelle Robinson, then engaged to a young lawyer, Barack Obama (also a big pal of Tony Rezko) , away from the Sidley Austin law firm.
This show will run and run ...
PS : There is no question that "Candidate 5" is a black male, Jesse Jackson Jr. whose brother Yusuf , was helped to get the hugely lucrative Anheuser-Busch beer distributorship covering Chicago’s North and Northwest Sides , and is also the son of Jesse Jackson .
To suggest that it is would be a vile slur, without any foundation and totally without foundation or indeed any foundation whatsoever.
Probably someone completely different.
The Senlis Council , one of the few independent and rational bodies that publishes reports on Afghanistan has decided to become the International Council on Security and Development (ICOS)
They claim this reflects their continuing expansion of programmes and new research platforms in various zones of conflict. They also have a new website and have produced a a report today
Struggle for Kabul: The Taliban Advance (pdf 40 pages).
They claim that the Taliban have rooted themselves itself across increasing swathes of Afghan territory. ICOS have been researching throughout 2008, and say that the Taliban now has a permanent presence in 72% of the country.. up from 54% in November 2007 as outlined in the ICOS (Senlis) report Stumbling into Chaos: Afghanistan on the Brink.
They also claim that the Taliban are the de facto governing power in a number of southern towns and villages. This illustrates the Taliban’s political, military and economic strategies are now more successful than the West’s in Afghanistan. Confident in their expansion beyond the rural south, the Taliban are at the gates of the capital and are now infiltrating the city at will.
Kabul is increasingly surrounded
There are four principal routes into / out of Kabul.
1. To the West, towards the Afghan National Ring Road through Wardak to Kandahar become unsafe for Afghan or international travel by the time travellers reach the entrance to Wardak province, which is about thirty minutes from the city limits.
2. To the South the road to Logar is no longer safe for Afghan or international travel.
3. To the east the road to Jalalabad is not safe for Afghan or international travel once travellers reach the Sarobi Junction which is about an hour outside of the city.
3. There are 2 northern routes ;
a) The road North towards the Bagram Air Base is frequently used by foreign and military convoys and subject to insurgent attacks.
b) The road North towards the Panjshir valley, Salang tunnel and Mazar – is considered safe for Afghan and international travel.
As the noose tightens around Kabul the Taliban have established bases close to the city from which to launch attacks inside it. Using these bases, the Taliban and insurgent attacks in Kabul have increased dramatically – including kidnapping of Afghans and foreigners, various bomb attacks and assassinations.
This dynamic has created a fertile environment for criminal activity, and the links between the Taliban and criminals are increasing and the lines between the various violent actors becoming blurred.
As this report is published the BBC report that the Taliban have attacked another depot in Peshawar and destroyed a further 50 vehicles in addition to the 100 destroyed at another depot on Sunday.
US Marines get ready to deploy to Afghanistan
Gen. James Conway, the Marine Corps commandant, is reported today by AP (Marines will shift to Afghanistan) that Marine units tentatively scheduled to go to Iraq next spring are already incorporating some training for Afghanistan into their preparations.
He said he has had discussions with Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and believes the Pentagon chief "would not object to the idea of a fairly strategic shift of focus of Marines from Iraq to Afghanistan."
"I just see that people have, over time, understood we don't want to take over Afghanistan, such as was rumored when we first started talking about a shift of forces,"
Gen. David McKiernan, the commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, has said he needs up to 20,000 additional troops, including four combat brigades and thousands of support troops.
Conway said several Marine units will be moving into Iraq in January and February, and it is too late to redirect them to Afghanistan. Instead, he said another large turnover of units in Anbar around April could be shifted to Afghanistan if they are notified soon.
A DoD News Briefing with Maj. Gen. Tucker (Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations for ISAF, Deputy Commander for Operations, U.S. Forces ) from Afghanistan at the Pentagon Briefing Room, Arlington, Va. on the 5th December makes interesting reading in view of the above.
Especially in relation to the need for helicopters.
Monday, December 08, 2008
Press Briefing by Press Secretary Dana Perino , James S. Brady Press Briefing Room, White House . 11:07 A.M. EST 3rd December 2008 Transcript
Q. Yes. Is the President going to sign the anti-cluster bomb treaty?
MS. PERINO: Right, this is a treaty that was passed out of the U.N. Security Council several months ago. We said then that, no, we would not be signing on to it....
Q. Why not?
MS. PERINO: What I have forgotten is all the reasons why, and so I'll get it for you. (Laughter.)
Whilst Damian Green MP, 52 , was "grooming" his ultra Conservative friendly Civil Servant wannabe "friend" of wannabe Ministers, Christopher Galley , to root through kebab loving, Home Secretary (still!) Jacquie Smith's drawers and "conspiring" with him to leak , Plod was taking decisive action. Whilst the Met Plod decided to arrest the pair of them "misconduct in a public office" they have (so far) refrained from laying charges.
Not so Plod in Northumbria.
In August Northumbria Plod swooped and arrested eight women and six men as a consequence of a large scale operation looking at corruption of Police officers and Council staff involving organised prostitution and corrupt public officials across Northumbria, County Durham, Greater Manchester, Cleveland and the Scottish Borders , which involved prostitutes advertising on the Internet, webby thingy.
The Sun , naturally anxious to help the forces of Law and Order disclosed that WPC Vikki Thorne, 28, working at the Houghton le Spring nick was filling in her spare time seeing 20 men a week ,as "Kelly" , a £100-an-hour hooker who advertised on "Notorious Girls" (see below) as ready willing and able to perform a variety of "services" but she refused to wear a UNIFORM , or see punters from Sunderland.
Also arrested were a police officer Simon Alistair Harrison, who was on a career break from the force and was living in West Yorkshire. After serving more than four years with the police, mainly in the Newcastle command area, he took up a career teaching. However, he has accepted a caution.
A Customs worker and a civil servant (so far not named in the press) were also arrested.
Anyway WPC Vicki Thorne who has been suspended and in hiding since her arrest appeared today on a single charge of "misconduct in a public office" at Newcastle Magistrates’ Court , along with four others, all charged with offences relating to prostitution. Vicki, said to be a wealthy businessman's daughter drove off from court in her Audi TT to her new detached house to remain in hiding until December 22, when all five will appear at Newcastle Crown Court again. All five were granted bail.
There is a website Notorious Girls which will re-direct you to either NG North East or North West , choosing the latter you find the message that re-directs you to La Maison Bury with the alluring address - Albert Works, 1 Brook Street, Bury BL9 6AH if you choose to enter the site you can easily select from amenu - for example Robyn, who smokes (but will refrain), won't enjoy the company of 2 men, or rimming (whatever that is) and is 5' 8"... a costing sheet is available.
It appears that these sites are run by Neil and Natalie Lock, both 27 (and preposterously style themselves Lord and Lady Lock) and live in Galashiels, Selkirkshire . They were picked up by Plod in their swoop in August along with their computers , no doubt along with details of their flock of 70 girls who each pay £117.50 per week to appear on their site, which has been in operation for 5 years.
"We earn £15,000 a week and make £3,500 a week profit " claim Lord and Lady Lock , “The cops have seized our assets of £1.5million which includes our homes worth around £1million and my Bentley worth £155,000.
They insist they are not acting illegally. They claim payments to the escorts are for “companionship” only and anything else is “a matter of choice between two or more consulting adults”.
Barack O'Bomber to send 20,000 more troops to Afghanistan and rewards General Shinseki - firm believer in overwhelming military force
US president-elect Barack Obama has nominated fellow Hawaiian born, retired army general Eric Shinseki, 66, as head of the Department of Veteran Affairs.
"I think that General Shinseki is exactly the right person who is going to be able to make sure that we honor our troops when they come home," Obama said.
Hawaii-born Shinseki, who is of Japanese descent, was the first Asian-American to be a four-star general and the first to head one of the branches of the US military. He was appointed army chief of staff by President Bill Clinton in 1999.
At a hearing in Congress in February 2003 senators asked Shinseki how many soldiers he believed would be needed to topple Saddam Hussein and occupy Iraq.
"Something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers are probably, you know, a figure that would be required," Shinseki said. At the time, military genius Paul D. Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, called the estimate by Gen. Eric K. Shinseki of the Army that several hundred thousand troops would be needed in postwar Iraq, "wildly off the mark." ..."We have no idea what we will need until we get there on the ground."
Frank Gibney published a brief essay about Gen. Shinseki as The General Who Got It Right on Iraq in the Los Angeles Times on December 24th 2004- which is well worth reading.
"In my time in uniform, the use of force was often not the preferred solution; neither was it necessarily the first option considered…. Once the use of force is sanctioned, there's almost no turning back…. Lethal force involves blunt trauma and surgical strikes, [which] better describe a military planner's range of options than they do the effects produced on the ground…. We can pinpoint targets with total accuracy … as long as they don't move."
Jack Jones, former Trades Union leader, battler for pensioner's rights, along with a couple of the remaining volunteers from the XV International Brigade sang in faltering voices, to the tune of Red River Valley, the Brigade's anthem .. 'There's a valley in Spain called Jarama......and most of our brave comrades fell' to remeber the return of their colleagues in Newhaven.
Jarama was the first decisive clash of the Spanish Civil War and the British Battalion lost 225 of its 600 men, the US Abraham Lincoln Brigade (Lincoln Battalion) lost 125 out of 500.
Jack who had been inspired to join on hearing Paul Robeson singing in Liverpool (Robeson toured the US volunteers to the displeasure of the US authorities) and was wounded in the last great Republican offensive at the Ebro.
They were commemorating the return in 1938 of the British Battalion to Newhaven, Sussex, England. In bright winter sunshine on Saturday a couple of dozen family members, friends and observers, remembered the bedraggled young men who arrived at the port some 70 years ago. They had been sent packing by the leftist Republican Government following the Non Interventionist Pact signed by Britain, Germany and others.
Unfortunately, the Nazi leadership of Germany failed to adhere to the agreement and continued to support the eventually successful General Franco who established a long lasting fascist state in Spain.
On the south coast of England at a fort first built in Napoleonic times to repel the French, the gathering was a tragic reminder that in war, nothing is as it seems.
Little did those heroic volunteers know the true extent that the infighting between the various anti-fascist groups; Anarchists; Trotskyites; Communists and Democratic Socialists, was significantly engineered by Stalin and the Communist Party.
Nevertheless, middle aged, middle class matrons, in smart London clothing, were seen to be selling the Daily Worker, oops Sorry, the Morning Star, in the pathetic belief that their grandfathers had given their all for the proletariat.